Remember and forget like God

My friends and I stood in line for three hours in Westwood, California, in order to see one of the premiere showings of the movie The Way We Were. It was 1973, and the mix of Robert Redford and Barbra Streisand was worth the wait! The last scene in the movie still makes me tear up. 

The title song won almost every award possible and is listed among the best songs of the century. Barbra Streisand bought a beautiful home on the shore in Malibu shortly after. My older sister worked for the landscaper who did her yard when she first bought the mansion and had stories to tell. I googled the beautiful cliffside estate’s current value, and it is somewhere between 100 and 150 million dollars.  

The first line of the title song is: “Memories . . . light the corners of my mind.” That song lit up her bank account too! But, hidden in the song is some biblical wisdom. 

The song teaches, “What’s too painful to remember, we simply choose to forget.”


We are made in God’s image and created to remember. The key is learning to remember what God remembers and choosing to forget what God forgets. That isn’t easy! I think our memories were one of the key things impacted by the Fall. 

The “forbidden fruit” was from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Once Adam and Eve had eaten the fruit, they knew more than God wanted them to know. They also remembered more than God wanted them to remember.  

Our memory is one of the things that will be perfected in heaven. If there are no more tears and no more suffering in heaven, then one of the characteristics of our eternal life will be the ability to remember and forget like God intended for us.  

Which memories will matter, and which will God enable us to forget?


One of my new discoveries is an online tool called the Dictionary of Bible Themes. I wanted to know what the Bible said about what God remembers. There were several verses for each heading, but to sum it up, God remembers: 

  • His covenant
  • His promises
  • His people

The Bible has verse upon verse proving that God has never forgotten why he made us. He has never forgotten to provide all we need so that we can know him, walk with him, and love him. He has never forgotten to bring one of his children to heaven. 


God forgets confessed sins. God chooses not to remember what no longer matters eternally. 

We should make it a high priority to follow our Father’s perfect example. 


There are times in life when I think, “But Lord, it was just one bite!” My next thought is almost always, “Yes, but one bite was all it took.” 

One sin changed human existence. We will always want a life in the Garden, but that gate has been blocked here on earth. 

For now, our priority is to live with heaven as our goal. Heaven is our home. We just don’t always remember that. 

If we want to remember like God we need to think about: 

  • The covenant: We asked Jesus to be our Savior, but do we allow him to be our Lord?
  • The promises: We have received promises, and we have given promises. God keeps his promises and doesn’t make promises he won’t keep. We should do the same.
  • The people: People have always been God’s highest priority. Does anything seem more important in your day than the people you will encounter?  

If we want to forget like God: 

  • We need to forget the mistakes we have confessed. We need to forget the offenses people have apologized for making. We need to forget to punish what is forgiven.


If we could only have one wish, I would wish to be able to remember and forget like God. 

But, it was that wish that prompted Eve to take the fruit and eat. We can’t be like God because there is only one Creator. But, it is amazing to me that God so loved the world, he gave us Jesus (John 3:16). It is also amazing that Jesus gave us his Spirit, who is “the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16). 

When we yield to the Holy Spirit’s thoughts, we can choose God’s better ways. 

The writer of the book of Hebrews was quoting the prophet Jeremiah when he told his readers to remember what God had said and done. God had promised that “this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel” (Hebrews 8:10). God’s children are the house of Israel. 

God promised his children he would “put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts” (Hebrews 8:10). God promised, “I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest” (Hebrews 8:10–11). 

How is it possible that everyone will know the Lord? Hebrews 8:12 has that answer. God said, “For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” 

If we remember what God remembers and choose to forget what God forgets, we will learn to think with “the mind of Christ.” His priorities can be ours.


If we remember and forget like God, we will live with his priorities. Every day has a purpose. Every day is the opportunity to live out God’s plan. He wants everyone to know him. God wants us to remember our high calling and confess the times we haven’t. 

If God has chosen to forgive and forget, we can do the same. We can think his thoughts and make his choices, through the power of his Holy Spirit. If we do, people will see Jesus in us—and know him. 

As the song says, “Memories light the corners of our minds.” 

Which memories should we remember?  

Which should we forget?